August 23rd, 2010
09:02 AM ET

Daughter turning eye inward worries mom

Every weekday, a CNNHealth expert doctor answers a viewer question. On Mondays, it's pediatrician Dr. Jennifer Shu.

Question asked by Angela Wiser of Glenarm, Illinois: My 3-year-old daughter has a trick. She can turn her right eye completely inward at will. We noticed it when she was an infant and have taken her several times to a pediatric ophthalmologist. He checked her out, dilated her pupils and suggested that there was nothing wrong, especially now that she has control over it. Should I stop worrying about it now, or go get a second opinion (the second opinion would be quite a drive)?

Expert Answer: Thank you for your question. Involuntary (uncontrollable) inward movement of the eyes in the first few months of life can be normal, and it typically disappears once a baby's eye muscles strengthen and become better coordinated. Being able to turn one's eye inward at will as a child gets older can also be normal, as your pediatric ophthalmologist has suggested. Over time your daughter may stop trying to turn her eye inward and you will not need to worry. In addition, if she has some movement of her eye that is happening beyond her control, it will be necessary to undergo further evaluation. Sometimes it can be hard to tell if the eye turning is being done at will in children this age, and there may also be different findings on repeat testing, so it's important to have close continued follow-up with a pediatric ophthalmologist.

I consulted with Dr. Ravi D. Goel, a board-certified ophthalmologist at Regional Eye Associates in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, and an Instructor on the Wills Eye Institute Cataract and Primary Eye Care Service in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He reports that uncontrolled inward deviations of the eye may occur more often when a child is tired, so you may want to monitor whether this is happening more when your daughter is sleepy. Because this type of disorder can put a child at risk for permanent vision loss, a second opinion can be helpful. If the second physician agrees with the first, the parents' minds will be at ease. If there is a difference in the diagnosis, the patient will benefit from a rigorous evaluation and treatment if needed.

Your daughter's pediatrician can also check out her "trick" and help you decide whether a drive for a second opinion would be warranted. Good luck!

soundoff (34 Responses)
  1. Craig

    I see nothing wrong with controlled eye movement. I have been able to do that all my life, I am now 32 and can still perform that simple task. I use it more for amusement with my kids now. I feel that being more in control of my eyes and focus points is probably why I am the only one in my family history besides my children that do not need glasses, because I can supper focus on near or far objects at will.

    August 23, 2010 at 10:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Anonymous

    My 4-year-old daughter can do this same trick, turning her right eye inward while the other stays looking straight ahead. She can totally control this and I've never seen it happen when she's tired. I haven't worried about it as her vision seems perfect. I've never known anyone else who can do this, but I haven't worried about it with my daughter. She has no other "symptoms" of any neurological or other disorder. We call it her party trick.

    August 23, 2010 at 10:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Grundoon

    My son can rapidly shake his eyeballs back and forth, which is actaully pretty cool in a ceepy kind of way, and when he was little I was scared that he would somehow damage himself like, "Hey, your eyes may stay like that permeanently if you keep doing that!" When he was 10 I took him to the eye doctor and said, "Do that thing for the eye doctor, Rick." He does and the doctor says, "Wow, what a cool trick!" and said not to worry and at 26 he's got eyes liek a hawk. 2nd opinions are always good though.

    August 23, 2010 at 10:05 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Yada Yada

      WARNING: My daughter did that and her eyeballs fell out !

      August 23, 2010 at 19:11 | Report abuse |
  4. Dino

    Take the MRI test then go from there. Never know ...

    August 23, 2010 at 10:22 | Report abuse | Reply
    • kevin

      that's part of the reason healthcare is so insane in this country. doctor says "nothing wrong with the kid", and you shout "MRI TIME!".

      August 23, 2010 at 15:52 | Report abuse |
    • Michael

      No kidding, my daughter bumped her head on her nightstand. It got swollen and black and blue, something that happened to me when I was a kid 1000 times, always bumping my head... When I got home from work I was told my wife brought her to the DR for "just in case" as she had a headache. It wound up to be nothing, they gave her Tylonel and sent her home. 3 weeks later, $2300 from the Hospital and that does not even include the DR bill.

      August 23, 2010 at 16:39 | Report abuse |
  5. allergic to cats

    LOL @Grundoon I can do that eye trick too...good to know someone else can do it! I'm 47 and other than being very nearsighted (since 3rd grade...thanks for the myopia, Dad!), there's nothing wrong with my eyes.

    August 23, 2010 at 10:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Kathleen

    My 5 year old daughter can do a similar thing with her eyes. She was diagnosed with Duane Syndrome when she was about 2 yo. This is specifically related to the innervation of certain muscles that control the ability of an eye to turn inward or outward. There are varying degrees of this. My daughter's is mild and does not affect her vision. You wouldn't notice this except when she chooses to make her eyes do this or when she looks a certain direction. It's worth asking a pediatric ophthalmologist about it.

    August 23, 2010 at 10:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Chris

    My daughter had the same problem. I took her to a specialist and she had something called Strabismus, which required laser surgery to correct the muscles in her eyes. It would have affected her vision if not corrected. She's 19 now and fine.

    August 23, 2010 at 11:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Dr. Johnson

    I think Kathleen has the diagnosis! I'm an ophthalmologist – most likely she does have Duanes syndrome. This means she can turn her right eye in normally, but the left eye doesn't (isn't able to) turn out. So when she's looking to her left, the only eye that turns to look, is the right. Some people with Duane's can't turn their eye in (adduction) and some can't turn their eye out (abduction).

    August 23, 2010 at 12:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Buster Bloodvessel

    My brother could unlock one of his elbows and bend it backwards. He did this to so many substitute teachers(stumble and come up clutching his arm and screaming) that they warned them in advance not to pay attention.

    August 23, 2010 at 12:43 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Gretchen

      How funny! I can just picture this!

      October 4, 2010 at 16:55 | Report abuse |
  10. Lee

    I had (have) something similar - I can make either eye go outward. It used to be uncontrollable, I had eye surgery at Wills Eye Hospital in Philadelphia when I was 12. The doctor shortened the muscles that surround my eyes. 31 years later, my eyes still can drift outward, but only if I want them to, or if I'm extremely tired. When they do drift, I see double. There's no permanent damage.

    August 23, 2010 at 12:48 | Report abuse | Reply
    • caligirl

      It is called strabismus(wandering eye) or amblyopia (lazy eye) and as a child I could cross my eyes or just one when I wanted to. My mom would warn me that it would stay that way. Well, by age 30, my left eye would drift in when I was tired or working at the computer. When typing for instance.my right eye would take over. My eyes no longer met at the same point in space so I would see double. After a while, my brain stopped paying attention to the signal from my left eye and I lost my 3d vision. I had to have surgery where they cut the muscles of both eyes and reattached them so they were even (perhaps they shortened one eye's muschles?) It was painful and thank goodness I had good PPO insurance but it was a pain dealing with it as an adult and recovery time was longer.I wished the doctors had done something when I was a kid-I could never hit a baseball or catch a fly ball because I lost my depth perception, although it made me a good artist and photographer. I could not always see the blackboard but I was smart enough that I didnt have to but I am certain my quality of life would have been much better had this problem been dealt with as a child
      . The surgery and subsequent therapy gave me back the normal eyesight that I had apparently lost by 4th grade. I am very luck my brain could be retaught. My father may lose his drivers license because he's losing his depth perception now. Take your child to an Opthamologist, not an Optomotrist!

      August 23, 2010 at 22:50 | Report abuse |
  11. Gordon

    I'm 69 years old, and have always been able to move either eye independent of the other. I use it with kids, who love to try it themselves. I go cross-eyed and then move either eye so that I am looking full left or right, and then bring the eye back to the cross-eyed position again, without moving the other eye. It's not a big deal, as I'm doing it voluntarily. Now if my eyes started wandering around on their own, that would be a different matter. Mind you, they still do that if a pretty girl walks by. {;-)

    August 23, 2010 at 13:15 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Elf Nuggets

      Ewww. Just another perverted old man.

      August 23, 2010 at 19:13 | Report abuse |
    • reallyfubar

      he isnt perverted, just a funny old man making the kids smile.

      September 1, 2010 at 22:37 | Report abuse |
  12. Jena

    I can move both eyes independantly of each other in all directions and have never met anyone else who can. My eye doctor even said he thought it impossible until I showed him.

    August 23, 2010 at 13:57 | Report abuse | Reply
    • John

      That doctor wouldn't inspire much confidence in me. I've seen and heard of other people being able to move their eyes independenly since I was a child, and an eye doctor thinks it's impossible?

      Q: What do you call the person who graduates last in his class at med school?
      A: Doctor.

      August 23, 2010 at 14:53 | Report abuse |
  13. CHUCK

    Almost 50% of all doctors graduate in the bottom half of their Medical Schools.

    August 23, 2010 at 16:09 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Elf Nuggets

      LOL. No one ever questions the doctor who got straight D's!!! How would we know which was an A student doctor and which was not? I venture to say most doctors in the U.S. were D students.

      August 23, 2010 at 19:16 | Report abuse |
  14. Joe

    I can fold my tongue completely in half, front to back or side to side, and completely flip it upside down. Am I going to die?

    August 23, 2010 at 16:30 | Report abuse | Reply
    • reallyfubar

      I am not a doctor, nor did i stay at a holliday inn... but i think you might have a future in the adult video industry.

      September 1, 2010 at 22:35 | Report abuse |
  15. person

    I could do this as a kid. I have amblyopia. Get the kid checked out with a pediatric optometrist, someone who specializes in strabismus and amblyopia. Kids can accommodate really well, but if you catch amblyopia too late, they can have visual field issues the rest of their life. Its never too early to get your kid's eyes checked with an (independent or affiliated with a hospital or ophthalmic clinic) optometrist.

    August 23, 2010 at 18:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Paniadvofilla

    Yes, correctly.

    August 29, 2010 at 18:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. reallyfubar

    my daughter did this young. doctor said she controlled it, its ok. I showed my friend a pic of her doing it, he said,I can do that. he taught me how to do it. its easy with help from a friend. face your friend, cross your eyes, and you see double. then choose one of the doubled objects to stare at.(like their left eye) and then try looking at their left eye, while continuing to keep eyes crossed. it feels weird, but you get used to it. trying it out with a friend helps you, because they can tell you if you are doing it correctly.

    September 1, 2010 at 22:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Karen

    Why won't parent tell their kids what not to do

    April 14, 2014 at 14:38 | Report abuse | Reply
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  20. Kim

    So glad I just saw this. Was wondering if it was normal. My 7year old did this yesterday and I called her a wierdo!! She has since done this everytime she looks at me to freak me out. I also tell her loose teeth are wierd so every time she has one she shows it to me 50 times a day until it comes out. PS I'm not mommy dearest and she has great level of self confidence. She thinks its hilarious to freak me out

    May 19, 2014 at 12:28 | Report abuse | Reply
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